Advice for businesses

The starting point for businesses looking to get their ads right first time.

Who do the UK ad rules apply to?

The UK advertising rules (known as the ‘CAP Code’ and ‘BCAP Code), apply to businesses based in the UK and everyone who markets or advertises their business in ‘UK media’, from a sole trader right through to a global conglomerate.

These rules help ensure consumers are treated fairly, and that businesses benefit from a level playing field.

What you need to know... 


What do the rules cover?

The BCAP Code applies to ads on TV and radio. The CAP Code applies to claims made, or offers and promotions you run, on your own social media channels or company website, as well as in more traditional or paid-for advertising space – both online and offline.

This means that whether you are placing an ad in a local newspaper, as a poster at a bus stop, sending it as a direct mailing, playing it on the radio, partnering with an influencer or posting it on your own website or social media profiles – there are rules on the content and targeting that need to be followed.

We recommend you read our more comprehensive guide about what is, and isn’t covered by the Code.

Enforcing the rules

The CAP and BCAP Codes are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA for short. We respond to complaints from members of the public, competitor businesses and also undertake proactive work to make sure businesses are sticking to the rules.

Our sister organisation, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) whose members represent advertisers, media owners and agencies, write the rules and offer advice and training to advertisers of all sizes to help them get their ads right.

We find that most advertisers want to work within the rules, not least because if they are seen to be ignoring rules designed to protect consumers it can significantly damage their reputation. However, when an advertiser is unwilling to work with us and follow the rules, we do have various sanctions at our disposal to help put things right.

Where can I get some more help?

This is just a snapshot of some of the key information to help you create responsible ads. There is plenty more to know depending on your specific campaign, company, product, or service. To find more specific advice take a look at our extensive searchable database of advice articles, or ask a question directly to the Copy Advice team who will be glad to help you. Also, you can keep up to date by signing up for Insight, our helpful newsletter full of advice and tips on responsible advertising.


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